The ‘starfish model’ for the war on terrorism

Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom have published an interesting article in the SF Chronicle today on facing and combatting terrorism:

The ‘starfish model’ for the war on terrorism …. How to counter a decentralized foe

i highly recommend reading this. it is from the authors of the new upcoming book Starfish and the Spider.


In the 1980s, headlines told of radicals waging a secret war, of hidden cells and of the FBI’s inability to do anything about them. They weren’t talking about al Qaeda, but about the Animal Liberation Front, which took direct action on behalf of animals (i.e., broke into labs). Some applauded the ALF’s efforts; others condemned them. But the FBI wasn’t able to contain these tofu-eating activists. The more aggressively the ALF was pursued, the more easily it recruited new members.

Like AA, the ALF lacked formal leadership, top-down hierarchy and structure. It was just a loose collection of informal circles linked by common beliefs. But its seemingly chaotic structure made it incredibly resilient to attack. The ALF drew its power from its decentralization.

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